The Anatomy Of: Vexes

Surely by now you’ve all heard some of the buzz surrounding the up-and-coming hard rock / post-hardcore group Vexes. Featuring former members of A Life Once Lost, Vessl, Fury of Five, and Downstage, the act are gearing up to release their debut album Ancient Geometry this week, and if you’re a fan of Deftones‘ massive riffs and crooning vocal style and progressive post-hardcore and alt-metal influences with keyboards and a keen sense of atmosphere, you’ll love what Vexes has to offer. 

While Vexes wear their influences on their sleeves, they’ve developed a multifaceted sound that is refreshing and exhilarating. We’ve reached out to the band to get a rundown of the records that lead them to their passion for listening, writing, and performing music, and each member delivered. Get a glimpse at The Anatomy Of Vexes below.

Robert Carpenter, bass:

Nine Inch Nails – Downward Spiral

I was a preteen with my eyes glued to MTV. They were playing the “March Of The Pigs” video and I remember that feeling of being completely unsafe and out of what I knew as my musical comfort zone. I didn’t know how to feel and I loved that vulnerability. The cyclical songwriting throughout Trent’s entire catalogue is something I revere.

Suicide Machines – Destruction by Definition

I had just received my first stringed instrument for Christmas when this record came out: A Fender jazz bass. I immediately locked myself in the garage until I knew how to play every song. This style of music and playing really helped me learn how to navigate a fretboard.

Candiria – The Process of Self Development

I was a couple years into listening to 90’s Hardcore stuff when my buddy Zach asked me if I knew who Ken Schalk was. Whatever unusual approach they took to creating the songs on the record, he was always the focal point to me. In my opinion, no band has successfully pulled off those heavy jazz grooves like they have. Candiria remain as a massive rhythmic influence.

Cave In – Jupiter

I have always been a huge Cave In fan from the beginning. They were one of the few bands lumped into the hardcore scene that clearly stood out. We would go to every NJ/Philly show and mosh our hearts out. Then they put out Jupiter. I was floored. They came around on tour shortly after and played that entire record from start to finish as I stood there with my jaw dropped for the entire set. Almost 20 years later, the record remains a huge inspirational work that I find myself drawn to over and over again.

Meshuggah – Destroy Erase Improve

What can I say that hasn’t been said? I truly think my love for this record was a little exaggerated due to my friend having this massive sound system in his Ford Explorer. We would pull into our HS Parking lot just thrashing around and head banging with this record on full blast. Aside from the songwriting, the guitar tones and drum work infinitely sealed the deal for me.

John Klagholz, guitars:

Catherine Wheel – Chrome

I remember hearing about CW from a friend, and not knowing what to expect (aside from the singer was Bruce Dickinson’s cousin), I bought the cassette and was hooked immediately. Everything was here; anger, hidden aggression, sorrow, sugary sweet shimmering but powerful guitars. Unfortunately they lost me on Ferment and the subsequent releases, but Chrome is as strong as it gets for this type of nu-gazey sound. Still a weekly listen to this day.

Rush – Moving Pictures

An older kid that lived down the block from us had originally showed me 2112 when I was about 12, but I was too “young” to really grasp the concept. I do vaguely remember the song structures and Geddy’s unique voice and being intrigued by that… then shortly after we were all deluged with Tom Sawyer on every radio station and my true love for Rush was born. I remember getting the record and listening for probably about a year and a half straight, every day. Every song is a journey and it was unfathomable to me at that time that only three guys made every sound on that record. Hugely formative for me in terms of structuring songs when I first picked up a guitar.

Deftones – Adrenaline

No real surprises here… The be-all-end-all… I had already been playing guitar by October of 1995, but my style was mainly centered around hardcore and thrash, as fast and as bludgeoning as possible. A band I was in at the time was doing a radio interview at a college in New Jersey, and during a break they announced a new band from Sacramento, CA that was picking up quite the buzz and played the first single. Steph Carpenter changed everything that I knew about music as soon as I heard the first muted chords of Bored, and obviously no one at that time was doing anything remotely close to Chino vocally. A life changing record.

Failure – Fantastic Planet

Admittedly I was a late bloomer when it came to Failure. I wasn’t into their earlier releases, but then FP came out and was hugely influential to the way I attacked playing even the simplest E chord. Ken Andrews is a major guitar hero of mine, and it reflects in most every riff that I attempt to write. The master of infusing melody and melancholy. Every note tinged with dissonance. To this day, I find it impossible to write anything without first asking myself, WWKAD?

Cutting Crew – Broadcast

Hugely underrated band, and record for that matter. Everything about the lush delay dripping keyboards and jangly guitars encompassed in Brit-pop that I loved at that time around ’86 when this came out. Notwithstanding the obviously huge (and cheesy- I’ve Been In Love Before) radio hits they had from this record, the standouts for me were the less noticeable songs, some of which were darker than expected compared to the singles.

Charlie Berezansky, vocals:

Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon

Music was always playing in my home growing up. My parents introduced me to all the classic bands and artists of the 60s and 70s. Dark Side of the Moon was special to me. To this day it’s my desert island record. If my interest in creating music had a timeline, it started when I was introduced to this record.

Metallica – And Justice for All

When my older brother moved out, he left a ton of 80s metal records behind. And Justice For All is the record that really introduced me to heavy metal/thrash metal. It was unlike anything I had been subjected to as a kid. I used to set up pillows and use wooden spoons, mimicking Lars’s drum fills. I was addicted to playing music from that point on.

Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream

I was 15 when I heard this record, and I think I listened to it for a year straight. Not much that needs to be said about this one. It was brutal and lush all at once. I’m a sucker for moody melancholy rock. This was the soundtrack of my life for a while One of my all time favorites.

The Lemonheads – Come On Feel The Lemonheads

Evan Dando is the shit. The guy is a songwriting genius. After hearing this, I understood why great songs were more important than flashy playing.

Abandoned Pools – Humanistic

I love this record so much. Tommy Walter could write a pop song that sounded nothing like it should. This record has a strange eerie quality to it, while still being extremely memorable. In my twenties, this was the band I wanted to be in. Josh Freese played drums on this record too. Which sealed the deal for me.

Justin Graves, drums:

This is purely speaking from a heavy music perspective. I’ve been influenced by so much music over the years. These are the five rock/metal albums that I feel were hugely influential without any duplicating anything that the other guys listed which are also some of my favorites.

6-7 years of age: Guns N Roses – Appetite for Destruction

This one might seem typical, but for me this was a game changer. I was born in 82′ this came out in 87′ and I would say I was exposed to it not long after that. I loved music from a very young age… Stevie Wonder, Prince, Michael Jackson and so on… We had family friends who had a son about 10 years older than me and was big into cock rock so I had already been exposed to Bon Jovi, Poison, Motley Crue… But one look at the twisted album art led me to my first listen somewhere around seven years old. I knew I wanted to be a musician ever since.

10 years old: Pantera – Vulgar Display of Power

Who remembers Columbia House? Yep, this was one of the first cassettes I got from them at the ripe age of 10. I missed the boat on Cowboys from Hell although it was also in my bundle of 10 tapes. Something about this record just resonated with me more. It had just come out, I was young, I was angry as was the album. It was anthemic, driving, screaming guitars and vocals, driving double bass. It was everything I was looking for in a heavy band. I was going to possibly mention Nirvana – Nevermind, but this album just steamrolled right over that one.

16-18 years old: The Dillinger Escape Plan – Calculating Infinity

This choice could have easily been their ep “Under The Running Board” or the EP after this “Irony is a Dead Scene”, featuring Mike Patton on vocals, or any early Candiria material. To be in high school, living in New Jersey in the late 90s in the metal and hardcore scene we were able to be the crash test dummies for what would become not only local, but internationally influential groundbreaking bands and musicians like these. When this album came out it was as much of a mindfuck as you can imagine. Nobody in the world was doing anything like this. I can’t begin to show my gratitude for players like Chris Pennie and Ken Schalk for changing my perspective of drumming forever.

18 years old: A Perfect Circle – Mer De Noms

I had heard of Josh Freese before. I had loved The Vandals full length “Live, Fast, Diarrhea” as a young teen. So naturally when I heard about a band featuring Maynard James Keenan and Josh Freese particularly I was very excited. To me this took everything I loved about bands like Tool, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Failure, Hum, etc and rolled it all up Into one band. This is a classic in my opinion.

18-20 years old: Meshuggah – Nothing

Admittedly I was a little bit of a late Meshuggah bloomer (…I say this approx 18 years later) around 2001 my good friend and longtime bandmate Bobby Carpenter gave me a copy of Meshuggah records “Chaosphere” and “Destroy Erase Improve”. Once again I was blown away and changed musically forever. I was already a heavy, China slamming drummer as it was. Already a HUGE fan of jazz and fusion, this just made so much sense to me. They were combining elements of Mahavishnu Orchestra and Al Dimeola to name a few, with pummeling down tuned metal to create a sound unlike anything I’d ever heard. Fast forward another year or so and the band drops “Nothing”. When you couldn’t make a band any crazier, this was just the peak album for me when it came to metal, musicianship, and groundbreaking influence.

While I crave and love music from so many genres and styles… I wouldn’t be the musician I am now without being molded by these five albums, drummers, bands.

Vexes’ debut Ancient Geometry will be self-released on February 23rd, 2017. You can stream a handful of tracks and pre-order via Bandcamp. Be sure to stick with the band through Facebook for more.

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